Last year I went on a trip to Tanzania and Zanzibar thanks to my work with Coca Cola, you can read more about that trip HERE. Today I thought I would share with you our excursion to Zanzibar, especially the spice farm that we visited.
As we left the bustling city and port of Dar es Salaam behind, on our two-hour ferry ride, I was excited to see if Zanzibar lived up to all I had read.
Zanzibar Ferry Docked
Zanzibar is somewhere I’d researched before with relish, even collected images of, whilst I had been thinking of places I would most like to visit on my travels. Pinterest really is your friend when it comes to planning travel I think. This small group of islands off the coast of Tanzania are full of history, especially as it was the main port for the slave trade in the area, during many years of its history. Interestingly, it also has exporting and growing of spices as a main industry, and that’s what we were going to explore on this trip.
As we reached the port, we were greeted by laughing children playing in the water, probably cooling off from the heat.
The buildings in the port were mixed in style and age, but there were some that definitely reminded me of my time in New Orleans, with double galleries and intricate fret work.
The Spice Farm
Once we arrived at the Tangawizi Spice Farm, we were shown around by two expert guides who, for the next two hours, walked us around the property explaining more about the fruit and spices that we found on the way.
I loved that this spice tour was unlike anything I had ever been on. No neat rows of crops growing, or regimented trees and plants. You simply had to wander around the property and at every turn was something new to discover.
These are the tops of the lemongrass, which we shredded to capture the familiar scent. Lemongrass is used in lots of culinary dishes around the world, but has also got antiseptic qualities.
Now I was unfamiliar with the Jack Fruit, and it really has a distinctive look, as the largest tree-borne fruit on the planet. I’ve recently been hearing about it in lots of vegetarian cookery, as the vegan alternative to pulled pork once it is cooked with spices and herbs. When ripe it tastes like a mixture of apple, pineapple, mango, and banana.
Once these turn red they are ready to harvest. Cloves are used in many sweet and savoury dishes and add a warm aromatic flavour. We got to smell, taste and learn throughout the walking tour, our guides were incredibly knowledgeable. The fresh passion fruit was amazing.
I couldn’t resist taking a photograph of this home-made broom outside one of the farmers houses.
Fruit used as lipstick from the achiote tree
Achiote (Bixa orellana) is a small tree, whose seeds from the fruit were originally used to make red body paint and lipstick. For this reason, the achiote is sometimes called the lipstick tree.
Our guide said that it is still used for that purpose today, however, more commonly now, the ground seeds are used in traditional dishes in South and Central America, the Caribbean, and Mexico.
Our youngest guide, whilst busy finding the spices and fruit, made each of the group something from flowers and leaves that we passed on the way, they were beautiful and intricately made. At the end of the tour, we got the chance to buy some of the spices we had seen. I must admit now that unfortunately, my camera broke halfway around the tour so I did miss taking photographs of many of the spices that we saw, like mace, nutmeg and cinnamon.
Because of my camera malfunction, these last couple of images were taken with my phone, but I wanted to use them to give a hint at what else Zanzibar has to offer. Stone Town was amazing to walk around, it’s full of winding alleyways, bazaars, mosques and amazing Arab houses. It’s those original Arab owners that made Stone Town feel so unique, as you wander around the many alleys you encounter flamboyant wooden doors (there are over 500 examples) one of which you see below.
It would be remiss of me not to also mention the Anglican Church we visited here too, which had alongside it, sunken in the ground, a poignant piece of artwork. The life-size statues of slaves rising from a pit, bearing original chains that you can see below.
Once we had completed our tour we headed back to Dar es Salaam on a small plane, which is something I will never forget, having never flown in a 12 seater before, and could be another blog post in itself, but I’ll save that for another time.
Zanzibar was emotive, beautiful and somewhere I would definitely go back to, we only saw a very small part of it, just enough to whet my appetite for more.